Zep would marvel at the ease with which his dog could slip from this world into his glorious used-to-be self, and he longed for a nap that would carry him back to Rita and her sweet and tart way of showing her love for him. During that first summer, he would lie in the lounger on the patio and close his eyes, only to awaken with a backache and goosebumps, the sun having deserted him to the cool evening shade. He could never remember his dreams, every wisp startled aside when he would leap to his feet, a man made vulnerable by his repose in the open space of his yard. His daydreams offered no respite either, disrupted with thoughts of irrefutable death and its permanent place in his life. His own death would not be as permanent to anyone as Rita’s was to him. He was glad he had not gone first and left her with this feeling of moving about in empty space. Perhaps she would not have noticed the emptiness as much, with her colored calendar and all. Perhaps she would’ve simply memorialized his date of death in orange and moved on with her life. He didn’t think so. But Rita was always the practical one, willing and able to accept life’s challenges and make the most of the world. She would want him to move on with his life; had even told him so in one random conversation that now seemed to blaze through his memories. Zep just didn’t know if he had it in him.